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Ask AKC: Dogs in Bed?

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

Dear Lisa: My wife and I are having a disagreement about whether to let our new Boston Terrier puppy sleep on the bed with us at night. Is this a good practice or will it create problems for us or the dog down the road? --Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
You will find trainers and behaviorists on both sides of the bed about this issue. Some say absolutely not and others offer great ways to make it work for human and canine. Any young puppy should sleep in a crate until housebroken and mature enough to jump up and off the bed without risk of injury. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of letting the pup on the pillow.

Advantages

  • It feels good to have your best buddy by your side. This can be an incredibly comforting and emotional experience. The ultimate bonding experience.
  • Great alarm system. No one will sneak up on you while sleeping. The close proximity of the dog to you is the ultimate protection.
  • They provide added warmth. Have you ever heard the expression "a three dog night?" That refers to a night that is so cold you need three dogs to keep you warm.
  • Dog can easily alert you when he needs to go outside in the morning for his first walk of the day.
  • Ultimate comfort for your dog.

Disadvantages

  • Ticks and other nasty bugs, like fleas, have an easier time jumping from the dog to you. In my region where Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are rampant, the risk is high.
  • Dogs snore. They can wake you up at night and disrupt your sleep. A recent survey reported that as many at 21 percent of dogs snore at night keeping their owners awake.
  • Dirt. They can shed hair and leave other nastiness lodged in their paws from walks outside on your bed.
  • Allergies. If you suffer from them and dog dander adds to your discomfort, then the worst place for your dog is on your pillow.
  • Dogs can become overprotective of one partner. If this behavior is allowed to escalate the pup may growl or even bite the partner attempting to enter the bed or asking the dog to move over.

I would suggest that it be as an "invitation only" instance and not an "automatic" right for dogs on the bed. This way you can decide when and where the dog can come on the bed and that puts you in charge. Whatever you decide, just make sure you are consistent with the rules.

Get more tips on sleeping with dogs from the AKC

 

If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.